Judge Tosses Reparations Suit Again

An effort by slave descendants to gain reparations (search) from corporations that allegedly benefited from slavery was dismissed Wednesday by a federal judge.

Judge Charles R. Norgle (search) characterized the issue as basically political, and said it should be decided by the legislative or executive branch.

He added that the plaintiffs have failed to show a link between themselves and the 17 corporations named as defendants, and that the statute of limitations rules out damages for wrongs committed before slavery was abolished in 1868.

It was the second time Norgle dismissed a version of the slave reparations suit and this time he did it with prejudice — meaning that any hopes of reviving it at the District Court level most likely are dead.

Norgle based his decision partly on "the long-standing" doctrine that political issues should be resolved in the Congress or the executive branch, and noted that slavery reparations issues historically have been fought there rather than the courts.

Attorney Benjamin Obi Nwoye (search) said he and other lawyers who have worked on the suit planned to appeal.

"We don't agree with his reasoning," he said. "We are hopeful that we will get justices who are fair-minded so the descendants of slaves can be repaid for the work of their forefathers."

Attorneys for the slave descendants say they want to use any damages to create a fund to help correct problems in the black community.